It is not migrant workers per se but their exploitation that undermines local wages

14 Dec

According to the Health and Safety Executive, migrant builders account for 17% of deaths on building sites, though they comprise only 8% of Britain’s 2.3 million construction workforce.

Activists are concerned about the impact of funding cuts on working conditions. Barbara Storey, chair of SOS Polonia, a Polish community organisation in Southampton, said: “Abuse in gang labour is still common in the industries where migrants find work.” The media go wild, she says, about the inflow of migrants, but what they should be talking about is migrants’ rights. Effective regulations would benefit both migrant and local workers.

It is not migrant workers per se but their exploitation that undermines local wages. As the GLA admits, the fines for exploitative employers have been too low to be a deterrent: if an employer makes an annual profit of £100,000 and pays a fine of £500 for breaking GLA rules, he may well carry on regardless.

Under this government’s war on regulation and “red tape”, migrant workers continue to be subjected to exploitation at work. If we’re to learn the lessons of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, we need to invest in improving conditions. Instead of immigration vans, raids and endless spot checks, we need resources to be redirected into penalising exploitative employers and protecting workers.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/03/morecambe-bay-cockle-pickers-tragedy

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